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Legislative Updates

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January 13, 2021

Interesting discussions that took place Monday and Tuesday about bills that are out and are expected to be out soon, at meetings of the League’s Legislative Policy Committee meeting and at the meeting of the state Commission on Housing Affordability.  Let’s talk about yesterday’s meeting first.


The Commission had a pretty extensive discussion about Accessory Dwelling Units and the bill out by Rep. Ward on ADUs (HBxx).  A lot of questions about the bill, what it does, how it applies, and so on.  More on this in a minute.


The Commission then discussed the bill it has been working on as a bill crafted and endorsed by the Commission, with Sen. Jake Anderegg as the sponsor. Many of the provisions discussed were financial to enhance and assist with housing costs and making housing more affordable.  But there were a couple of interesting items that were discussed that are still to be written into the bill.  These included:

  • Inclusionary zoning – the bottom line thought was that a provision will be written into the bill that stipulates that if local ordinances stipulate that some number of housing units in a project are mandated to be “affordable” (not yet defined), they must be allowed in addition to the number of units allowed under the regular land use process.  In other words, if the regular land use regulations and process would allow say 100 units, but the desire of the local officials is to require that some 20 units be affordable, the project must be approved with 120 units.
  • Economic development incentives – when incentives are used for an economic development project of a given size, this proposed provisions would require that there must be an assessment of the impact of that project on housing in the area.  If the impact is significant enough (not yet defined), then a portion of the proposed incentive must be used to help offset the anticipated impact on housing cost and availability.
  • Impact fees – there was discussion (again) about the impact of impact fees (and other fees) on housing affordability, and the desire to make sure those fees are for legitimate, associated governmental costs, not for enhancement (or “padding”) of local budgets.  There was plenty of push-back from local government reps at the meeting, indicating that such enhancement of fees is not permitted under current state law.  This same issue has been the subject of considerable discussion in the land use task force and by the land use subcommittee of the Commission, and may be the subject of a stand-alone bill.  That approach was suggested by a member of the Commission, rather than have it included as part of the Commission’s-endorsed bill.


So looks like there are still a lot of details to be worked out on this housing bill.  Commission Co-Chair Sen. Anderegg indicated that there will likely be a special meeting of the Commission on Housing Affordability during the first or second week of the session to review the still to be added language, before it is finally released for consideration by the legislature.


The issue of ADUs, as mentioned above, was also discussed by the Commission, and by the League’s Legislative Policy Committee on Monday.  Rep. Ward was in attendance at both meetings and was very open in discussions about the bill and questions that were raised.  There were several, but the biggest seems to be about the impact on parking on neighborhood streets.  I have a bunch to write about this, but because there so much material, I think I’ll make it the subject of a separate leg update, to be sent out shortly.


One more bill of interest that has come to my attention just recently:  HB151 – State Infrastructure Bank Amendments, which would eliminate parking facilities as an allowed project to be funded by infrastructure bank funds.


Wilf Sommerkorn

Co-Chair, APA Utah Legislative Committee

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